Common Diseases that Affect the Elderly


Common-Diseases

  1. Our Kids never leaving our Nest…
  2. Our Pets living on forever…
  3. Our Parents never getting old…

Our head knows such situations are an inevitable reality sooner or later. But our heart wishes that somehow, we could get our kids to stay  with us for eternity, or that our parents always remain young and healthy.

It makes us uneasy when our parents silently stop to catch their breath and when they walk slower than before. We worry if age and disease has caught up with them in a way that we haven’t known. Here are a few common diseases that affect older people and how to identify these diseases early on:

Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s Disease is a condition in which a region of the brain which secretes a chemical called dopamine is affected. This commonly results in tremors, rigidity of muscles and slowness of movement.

What are the early signs of Parkinson’s?

  1. Slight trembling or shaking of one’s fingers, lips, chin, legs or hands is an early sign of Parkinson’s. (Unless it is after exercise or due to certain medicines)
  2. You may notice that your parent has a blank stare or looks serious even if he/she is not in a bad mood (some medicines may cause a staring look, but this goes off on stopping the medicines).
  3. One’s handwriting has suddenly become very small and crowded (unless it is gradual, due to stiffness of joints or a  poor eyesight).
  4. Your parent looks stiff when he/she walks or doesn’t swing their arms when they walk (it may not be Parkinson’s if the stiffness is due to arthritis or an injury).
  5. Your parent may complain that he /she has trouble smelling certain foods (the sense of smell may be lost temporarily due to a cold or stuffy nose).

Heart Disease

Many people are not diagnosed with a heart problem until they have a heart attack  or stroke. Heart diseases include those caused by weak heart muscles or abnormal heart beats or trouble with one’s heart valves.

What are the early signs of heart disease?

1. Chest pain or pain in the neck, jaw, back or upper abdomen.

2. Feeling like one’s breath were not sufficient enough or getting tired easily after any activity

3.  A feeling of fluttering or racing of one’s heart.

4. Swelling in one’s feet or around the eyes or hands.

5. Visit a doctor immediately if your parent experiences chest pain, has shortness of breath or faints. The earlier a heart disease is detected, the easier it is to treat it. So never hesitate in seeking help if you suspect  trouble.

Cancer

The big  ”C”  is a disease that can scare the daylights out of anybody. Certain cancers do not cause any symptoms until the cancer has reached an advanced stage. Hence, it is very important that one should not neglect any long standing symptom, however trivial it may seem.

What are the early signs of cancer?

  1. Finding blood in one’s stool, urine, sputum or apart from one’s monthly cycle in women.
  2. A lump in one’s breast (This may come as a surprise – Breast Cancer can affect men too!).
  3. Change in the size, shape or colour of a mole or wart or any other spot on the skin.
  4. Drastic  weight  loss without any change in diet or exercise.
  5. Having difficulty while swallowing along with vomiting and weight loss.
  6. Symptoms that persist unusually long – a cough that doesn’t go away, a sore that doesn’t heal or loose motions that do not stop.

Stroke

A stroke is like a heart attack of the brain. Bleeding in the brain or lack of blood supply to the brain can cause  the cells of the brain to die from lack of oxygen.

What are the early signs of a stroke?

The early signs of a stroke are  ” FAST “  (Face, Arms, Speech, Time)

  1. Face: The face may droop on one side causing an uneven smile.
  2. Arms: One arm may feel weak or numb. The person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them raised.
  3. Speech: The speech may become slurred or difficult to understand. The person may find it difficult to talk.
  4. Time: Take the person to the nearest doctor without wasting any time even if any of the above symptoms go away.
  5. Other symptoms could be confusion, sudden loss of vision, complete paralysis of one side of the body, or difficulties with balancing.

While one cannot escape from the fact that one’s parents are going to age, keeping a check on their health regularly can ensure that they live a long and healthy life.

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